HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS  (2 minute read)

By Neel Anil Panicker

It’s beaten and battered. It’s demeaning and dangerous. It’s inhuman and inhospitable.

But, still, it’s home. HOME with a capital H.

It’s Seelampur__the place of your birth, raised and razed, several times over.

It’s the place that holds all your memories; the place where you lost and found__everything from a home to family, to friends, to football.

Also love.

They__those bombastic guys who speak English with a twang and who walk around with a swagger and whose bodies reek of the best of eu de cologne, the kind who live in fancy multi storied houses and villas by the sea, and who zip around in fancy planes __all those spoilt brats who claim themselves to be Children of a Higher God__they say__theirs’ is life, that it’s they who live while others are doomed to a lifetime of misery and unhappiness.

I say, no. That they’re wrong; we’re right.

‘coz we’ve got one thing they may never ever possess.

We’ve got love.

And that, I say, is the greatest of all wealth.

#neelanilpanicker #Flashfictionfortheaspiringwriters #shortstory #175words

FFfAW Challenge – 174th




By Neel Anil Panicker

There was no leader. In fact all got to play leader. Up, several thousand feet above the earth, they would trade places, move in and out, shuffle back and forth, allowing each one the pride and joy of leading the pack sans any ego sans the megalomania that is the occupational disease that besets homo sapiens.

From her terrace, Asha watched with unalloyed pleasure at the non-stop parade of one majestic flock of birds after another, each flapping her wings and taking off; all__in no time__making perfect military V formations, the tinged reddish brown and sparkling yellow of their wings neatly slicing through the sky blue skies, sprouting forth bubbles of effervescent clouds.

The sight__a magnificent fluorescent trail of winged beauties, all floating away to their destinies__left behind heart warming images of an exquisitely choreographed heavenly dance.

As darkness descended and the birds and their antics became but a distant memory, Asha reluctantly dragged her feet downstairs.

It was back to the monotony, the drab and dreariness of human existence.

As she entered the hallway, her stepfather’s voice, coarse and cruel, slammed into her ears, “Come to my room and do as I command. Or else, your mother’s dead”.

#neelanilpanicker #flashfiction #flashfictionfortheaspiringwriters #birds

FFfAW Challenge – 173rd

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By Neel Anil Panicker

By the time the two had reached the roundabout it was all quiet; all she could see was a thick bushy outgrowth__tall, cinder trees  stood like fiery sentinels, their huge monstrous branches, twisted and entwined  encircling the other less fortunate cousins, clasping them with their gnarled roots, a tinge of reddish ferocity peeping out like florescent bulbs in the near dark.

She shuddered with fright and inched closer to her partner.

“Dev, it’s so lonely out here. Let’s turn around, I am scared”.

“Scared? And you? Stop kidding, Anjali”.

She found him peering down at her, his handsome face, now clad in a silly smile, an all knowing, half mocking curl that he turned on whenever she uttered something that he deemed nonsensical; his ocean blue matching the gesture, insouciance personified.

She opened her mouth to say something but he beat her to it.

Arching his shoulders forward, he scooped his massive arms around her and bottled her luscious lips with his own.

That’s how they stood, bang in the middle of the main arterial pathway that carved a circular wing around the park, their bodies crunched together, utterly oblivious to the world around them, their hearts beating in sync with their bodily vibrations.

His eyes closed, his hands busy at work, Dev decided it wasn’t an ideal time__he would get better opportunities to kill her.

#NEELANILPANICKER #FLASHFICTION #flashfictionfortheaspiringwriters

FFfAW Challenge-172nd




By Neel Anil Panicker
The splash of waters could be heard even from a distance.

Sitting on the bench, ringed by a circular parapet, Imtiaz  and Asma watched their kids___eight year old Latif and five year old Azma_dipping their fingers in the froth filled waters and squealing  in delight every time they spotted or  felt a small fish slip through their nimble  fingers.

Meanwhile, their nimble bodies swayed rhythmically as the small boat on which they were bobbed languidly in the placid afternoon waters.

“I am so glad you could take time out. The kids look so happy.”

Imtiaz turned around and nodded his head in assertion.
His hesitant eyes caught the twinkle in her eyes.
Something in them made him to turn his gaze away.
She mustn’t know; at least not until he had exhausted all his resources; expended every conceivable excuse that could pass muster with his bosses.

‘No. Imtiaz, there is no option but for you to go. And it is in your best interests that you take up this new position’.

The words of his employer sent a chill down his spine.
He knew what they meant.
His boss had extended a warning, a a veiled threat. The orders that followed left no room for doubt or ambiguity.
‘Proceed immediately for Kashmir. Also, remember, this is  covert operation that’s been conducted without the formal nod  of the Defence Ministry. As such  complete secrecy has to be maintained.
Which means you will tell your wife  and children that you are leaving for Dubai on a six month official trip. Also remember, you come back only when we hear the news confirming the death of Abu Bakr.’

The words ‘Abu Bakr’ mouthed my his boss sent a chill down his spine.
Who hadn’t heard of Abu ‘Mutton Bakr?
One of the most wanted global terrorists___the man responsible for the Kolkata Metro bomb blasts as well as the brazen attack on an Indian Army camp in Pathankot.

His bosses had given him his toughest and most dangerous assignment so far and he was expected  to deliver as he had been delivering all this years.
Only difference: this time if he failed  he wouldn’t be alive to tell the tale; his enemies, the country’s enemies would ensure that.
“What are you dreaming about, my dear handsome husband. Isn’t it time we went ordered lunch”?

Caught off guard, Imtiaz sheepishly  looked at her wife and replied, albeit haltingly, “Sure, as you say, love. Let me go ferry the kids back”.

#neelanilpanicker #fiction #flash flashfictionfortheaspiringwriters

FFfAW Challenge – 169th

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by Yinglan. Thank you Yinglan!

FFfAW Challenge-167th

By Neel Anil Panicker

Growing up in a large extended family of some 35 odd members including one’s parents and grandparents; uncles and aunts; brothers and sisters, and the ubiquitous eclectic assortment of cousins, full and half, first, second and even third removed, all laughing and playing and generally rioting around one or the other of the uncountable rooms ringed in by a near endless courtyard fully of exotic trees and plants was a one in a life time experience, something little Erich would later recall as an absolutely unworldly, starry experience.

Though there was never a dull moment what with endless games and food and frolic happening all around to keep oneself rivetingly busy, it was during one such extended summer break that ‘Bubi’ as everybody called him stumbled upon what he would later recall as a life changing event.

“Hey, my boy, come here. This is for you”.

While father was known to bring in gifts every time he returned from the war front, this time what landed in Bubi’s hands was a miniature fighter aircraft, a model of the one his father flew.

For the next few days the house became his airport, its courtyards and rooms the hangar as he practiced his take offs and landings on the courtyard that morphed into the tarmac.

A month later around dinner table, Bubi stood up on his high chair and grandly announced, “I’ll become the best fighter pilot in the world”.

#neelanilpanicker #fiction #flash #shortstory #realisticfiction #ilot

#WWII #German #FFfAW #aircraft

Erich Hartmann


Erich Hartmann is the most successful fighter pilot of all times – with 352 kills. A number that will never be surpassed. His nickname “Bubi” means “little boy” – and it’s easy to find out why he was called like that. He was also called “The black devil”. Hartmann flew a Messerschmitt Bf 109.

Hartmann flew a total of 1404 missions and wasn’t not only never shot down in this huge number of aerial battles, he also never lost a wingman.
He was active as a flight teacher for the West German Luftwaffe after the War. Later on, he became a civilian flight instructor.)







By Neel Anil Panicker

There he is; an apology of a figure, a small moving dot on a fast obliterating horizon.

From my perch by the fourth floor window that looks out onto the desolate street that’s cloaked in darkness, I gaze out to him, my eyes all intent.

I see him come, hobble rather, a weary old figure, the shoulders hanging out loosely around his reed thin frame as if they were some wilted flower; the feet, thinly sticks dragging themselves over the water filled cobbled pathways.

He drags past Abdul’s and all of a sudden he looks up.

Briefly, very briefly, our eyes meet.

We converse in silence.

He drops his neck and ambles into the ramshackle building.

In a moment he would be walking up the creaky stairs and step in through the door; the door that’s been left open ever since he left half a day ago.

I flick my wrists and gaze at my watch.

The needles rest on 12.

It’s the start of another day.

Pity, we wouldn’t be there to greet it.

#neelanilpanicker #fiction #shortstory #flashfictionfortheaspiringwriter #FFfAW


FFfAW Challenge – 166th

by Priceless Joy



By Neel Anil Panicker

Jiten Manjhi turned around and looked over at his friend and beyond at the wide arid farmland that spread out before his eyes for acres and acres.

“A huge come down, ain’t this?” his friend Soren Lakra hollered as he dug his shovel deep into the hard crust of the earth.

Jack straightened his back and turned his gaze upwards. His eyes squinted as he shielded them from the harsh glares of the afternoon mid-May sun.

Jagdalpur during this time of the year was blistering hot and that was how it had been for the past one month and that’s how it would be for the next couple of months at the least.

“Nothing’s a come down,” he shouted out to his childhood buddy. “It’s a game of wait and watch. Have patience, things are going to be back to normal. More than normal, I say”.

Lakra nodded his head in acknowledgement as beads of sweat trickled down and united with his bare backed spine.

He knew what normal meant, what more than normal meant. It meant going back to the jungles, back to living the life of a Naxalite, back to shooting and blowing up ‘enemies of the proletariat.’


FFfAW-Week of April 24, 2018

Hosted by Priceless Joy at